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Trustees Praise EFSC President’s COVID Leadership, Extend Contract to 2026

February 9, 2021 - The Eastern Florida State College Board of Trustees extended the contract Tuesday of college President Dr. Jim Richey after praising his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The five trustees took the unanimous action during Richey’s annual performance review for 2020, the latest since he became president in 2012.

EFSC President Dr. Jim Richey and cheerleaders at Fall Commencement 2020 drive-through event
Dr. Jim Richey attended drive-through commencement celebrations on all four EFSC campuses in December 2020, leading the effort to recognize graduates despite the limitations posed by the pandemic.

Trustees called his achievements and those of the college’s faculty and staff exceptional, saying EFSC is educating students in a safe and innovative manner despite the virus.

They cited successfully moving thousands of classes online, providing emergency CARES Act grants to students and instituting strong COVID tracking and reporting procedures.

Other accomplishments included not raising tuition for the ninth straight year, enrolling a record number of minority students and opening EFSC’s first Residence Hall on the Melbourne campus.

“The last year with the pandemic is when leadership is really tested, and Dr. Richey and his team rose to the occasion,” said Trustee Ron Howse.

Trustee Bruce Deardoff called Richey a person of integrity “who we can always trust to do the right thing,” with Trustee Dr. Edgar Figueroa saying Richey has made EFSC “a true star in the state of Florida.”

“His leadership style is second to none,” said Trustee Moses Harvin during the board meeting held with pandemic safety protocols in place.

EFSC Trustees meeting with social distancingBoard Chair Alan Landman agreed, saying Richey acted “quickly and effectively” to meet the COVID crisis by moving classes and college operations online.

As a result, the Board extended Richey’s five-year contract to 2026.

Richey credited the college’s faculty and staff for their herculean efforts to address the pandemic, saying he was “extremely proud of them.”

“While taking on these challenges, we have never lost sight of our obligation to teach our students in an effective and safe way for all. That has been our challenge and it will continue to be our mandate going forward,” he said.

“We view each day as an opportunity to improve every aspect of the college. We do it with a sense of cooperation, teamwork, gratitude and understanding of our students’ needs. That mindset is the real key to our success. 

“I’m honored to lead such a professional group of dedicated educators. Collectively, we are making a very important difference in our area and region of Florida.”

The college’s accomplishments under Richey in 2020 were detailed in a 44-page report that was reviewed by trustees. 

Some key pandemic response details include:

  • 3,416 in-person classes were moved to online learning formats, nearly 1,800 of them during a two-week period in March.
  • 9,300 students were awarded an average $500 grant for emergency assistance through $3.5 million in funding through the CARES Act.
  • More than 27,200 students received help remotely from Academic Advisors, keeping their education on track.
  • More than 51,000 Microsoft Teams meetings and classroom sessions were held, making remote learning and work routine.
  • 180,000 face masks, 172,000 pairs of gloves, 2,500 plastic face shields and 620 soap
    sanitizing dispensers were purchased for college use.